You hear and see it everywhere: 'exercise is healthy' and 'exercise is good for you'. Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physical and mental. It can even help you live longer. But how does this work? In this blog you can read why it is effective to exercise every day.
Exercise prevents health problems, builds strength, increases energy and can help reduce stress. “Exercise” includes any movement that works the muscles and requires the body to burn calories. Think, for example, of swimming, jogging, running, walking, dancing and of course training in the gym.
Boost the immune system
Exercising not only keeps you fit, it also helps you stay healthy. Regular exercise boosts overall fitness, which in turn boosts the immune system and makes you more resistant to illnesses like the common cold. But those aren't the only benefits...
Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Exercise causes changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It may also increase the brain's sensitivity to the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.
In addition, exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and decrease the perception of pain.
Another reason to exercise regularly is that it gives you energy. A workout can allow oxygen to flow more freely through the body and give you a boost of energy to get through the day. It also increases overall stamina, allowing you to stay energized for longer.
An older study found that 6 weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue in 36 people who reported persistent fatigue.
Aerobic exercise stimulates the cardiovascular system and improves lung health, which can significantly help with energy levels. The more you move, the more blood your heart pumps out, giving the working muscles more oxygen. Exercising regularly makes your heart more efficient at moving oxygen to your blood, making your muscles more efficient.
Over time, this aerobic workout results in less strain on the lungs and less energy is needed to perform the same activities — one of the reasons you're less likely to become short of breath during vigorous activity. Also one of the reasons why you are no longer gasping for breath at the top of the stairs ;)
A healthy weight
'Every pound goes through the mouth', but sufficient exercise has an important task here too. Physical activity and calorie intake are both important in controlling body weight. Scientific evidence shows that physical activity helps people maintain a stable weight over time and can reduce the risk of excessive weight gain and the incidence of obesity.
The relationship between physical activity and the prevention of weight gain is most commonly observed in aerobic physical activity of moderate or vigorous intensity. Muscle-strengthening activities help promote weight maintenance. Muscle-strengthening activities can also help maintain lean body mass while losing weight. Combining both calorie restriction and physical activity is usually most beneficial for weight loss rather than just calorie restriction or physical activity alone.
Do you sleep badly? Even then, exercise can help you. The relationship between exercise and sleep has been extensively researched over the years. Previous studies have shown that good exercise can alleviate sleep-related problems and help you get enough rest. Recent research also suggests that insufficient or poor sleep can lead to lower levels of physical activity the next day. In other words, optimizing your exercise routine can potentially help you sleep better, and getting enough sleep in turn ensures you have enough energy to perform the workout.
Moderate-to-vigorous exercise, in particular, can improve sleep quality for adults by reducing falling asleep — the time it takes to fall asleep — and decreasing the amount of time they spend lying awake in bed at night. In addition, physical activity can help relieve daytime sleepiness and, for some people, reduce the need for sleep medications.
Bones, muscles and joints support the body and help it move. Healthy bones, joints and muscles are critical to perform daily activities without physical limitations, such as climbing stairs, working in the yard, or carrying a small child.
Exercise works on bones just like it works on muscles - it makes them stronger. Exercise is important for building strong bones when we are younger, and it is essential for maintaining bone strength when we are older. Because bone is living tissue, it changes over time in response to the forces applied to it. When you exercise regularly, the bone adapts by building more bone and becoming denser.
The two types of exercise that are most effective for building strong bones are bodyweight exercises and strength training.
Another benefit of exercise is that it improves balance and coordination. This becomes especially important as we age, as it helps prevent falls and the resulting broken bones.
Long term health
In addition to all the immediate benefits of regular exercise, it can help prevent health problems such as heart disease and diabetes in the long run. Exercise strengthens the heart and increases circulation. The increased blood flow increases the body's oxygen levels, which helps to lower the risk of heart conditions such as high cholesterol and heart attack.
More specifically, exercise can help reduce or prevent the following chronic health problems:
- Type 2 diabetes. Regular aerobic exercise can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. It also has significant health benefits for people with type 1 diabetes. Resistance training for type 2 diabetes includes improvements in fat mass, blood pressure, lean body mass, insulin resistance and glycemic control.
- Heart disease. Exercise reduces cardiovascular risk factors and is also a therapeutic treatment for people with cardiovascular disease.
- High cholesterol. Regular moderate-intensity physical activity can raise HDL (good) cholesterol while maintaining or compensating for increases in LDL (bad) cholesterol. Research supports the theory that high-intensity aerobic activity is needed to lower LDL levels.
- Hypertension: Participation in regular aerobic exercise can lower resting systolic blood pressure by 5-7 mmHG in people with hypertension.
In contrast, a lack of regular exercise — even in the short term — can lead to a significant increase in belly fat, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Therefore, regular exercise is recommended to reduce belly fat and reduce the risk of developing these conditions.
The benefits of exercise enumerated:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity
- Keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible
- Keeps bones and muscles strong
- Contributes to mental well-being and help treat depression
- Helps relieve stress and anxiety
- Increases energy and stamina
- Improves sleep
- Helps maintain a healthy weight by increasing metabolism
If you aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity spread throughout the week, you meet the Department of Health and Human Services activity guidelines for adults.
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is anything that gets your heart pumping, such as walking, biking, or swimming. Activities such as running or participating in a strenuous fitness class count toward vigorous intensity.
Add at least 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abs, chest, shoulders and arms) and you're going to exceed recommendations.
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